As great as it feels to have freshly washed hair, you/we might not always have the time. The whole shampoo-condition-style process can sometimes feel like a chore, even with your favorite fancy products on hand.
With that said, there’s good news: Spacing out your shampoos isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, washing your hair less often can actually be better for its health. According to dermatologists, most people shouldn’t be shampooing daily. So, depending on your hair type and the state of your scalp, you may be fine to wait a whole week or (gasp) longer before sudsing up again.
If you’re thinking, “There’s no way—my hair would be a greasy mess!”, then keep reading. We’ll walk you through exactly how to train your hair to go longer between washes.
What are the benefits of washing your hair less?
When you wash your hair less, it retains more of its natural oils. Those natural oils (produced by your scalp and known as sebum) are important for keeping your hair protected, moisturized and strong. As shampoo cleanses, it removes sebum from the scalp—that’s why overwashing can leave hair feeling stripped-dry, brittle and dull. Ironically, washing more than you need to can also make your scalp grease up faster. Stripping away oil triggers your sebaceous glands to overcompensate for the loss, producing even more oil.
Another potential perk? Less damage. Any time you detangle, heat style or manipulate your hair, you expose it to some degree of stress. So if you blow dry or flat iron your hair after each wash, that can be hard on it, too.
Bottom line: Washing your hair less frequently puts less stress on it, which helps keep it strong and healthy. You’ll also use less product in the long run, saving you time and money.
How many days should you go without washing your hair?
This answer will be different for everyone because it depends on your hair type and styling habits. If you have very fine, straight hair that gets oily fast, day four or five may be your cutoff point. If you have a thick, coily mane that’s on the drier side, you might find that two weeks or more sans wash makes your hair feel its healthiest.
To get a feel for how long you can push it, consider:
- Is your hair dry or oily?
- Is your scalp dry or oily?
- Is your hair damaged or breakage-prone?
- Is your hair color-treated?
- Do you use lots of creams, oils, etc., in your hair?
- Do you use a lot of dry shampoo?
Check out our hair-washing guide for more tips.
How to go longer between washes
Now, for the good stuff: how to actually make washing less work for you. Training your hair to go longer between washes is a thing, but it’s really about getting your scalp’s oil production under control. If you’re used to shampooing every other day, you may be in for some mega-greasy days as your scalp adjusts to the new schedule. Once it does, though, your oil production should balance out.
Here’s what to do on wash day and beyond to extend the life of your shampoo.
On wash day
- Deep clean with a gentle clarifying shampoo so you start with the freshest hair possible.
- Use an exfoliator, like a scalp scrub or massager, to bust through hard-to-remove buildup.
- Keep conditioner away from your roots; apply only to your ends if you have fine or oily hair.
- Skip hot water to avoid drying out your scalp and creating more oiliness.
After wash day
- Lean on dry shampoo—ideally, one that’s benzene-free, supports scalp health and doesn’t leave heavy residue—to refresh hair and revive volume.
- Opt for a water-only rinse after working out to wash away sweat.
- When applying styling products, steer clear of your roots to avoid weighing them down.
- Limit how much product you use on your hair, especially if you have fine strands or an oily scalp.
- Learn how to style day three (and beyond) hair to disguise greasiness. Test out braids, messy buns, high ponies, headbands and other accessories to find what works for you. Texturizing products can help add volume, too!
- Hands off! Keep your fingers out of your hair to prevent oils from transferring to your strands.
- When your scalp gets oily, brush your hair from top to bottom to distribute the oils throughout your locks and boost shine.
Washing your hair less can be great for its health—it protects moisture, curbs breakage and saves lots of time. The trick is to cleanse as thoroughly as possible on wash day without drying out your hair, then figure out which products and techniques can help you fake freshness and maintain volume (hint: Dry Shampoo). And when you do decide to hop back in the shower, be sure to use a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner formulated for your hair type.